Preparing a Meal

Snacks/Eating Out


Activity 1

Activity 2

Food and Shopping List

For some people food is one of life's greatest joys. Food plays a major role in diabetes management.

Healthy eating is encouraged because it affects blood glucose levels. This impacts on the health of the person with diabetes.

Healthy eating is good for everyone. This means that everyone can enjoy the same foods. There needn't be any special meal preparation, cooking or shopping for people with diabetes.

It is important that people do not think that because they have diabetes they have to eat differently to everyone else. Eating should be an enjoyable social experience.

There are a lot of books available about healthy eating and diabetes. They include books about GI foods (glycaemic index), and about low fat diets.

If the person with diabetes is having difficulty controlling their blood glucose levels they may be asked by their doctor or diabetes educator to keep a food diary and/or to see a Dietitian.

This is when other diets may come into play. Some foods may be reduced or removed.

  • Small servings are best

Three Healthy-Eating Recommendations

  1. Spread the meals evenly over the day (Eat at the same times each day) - This helps to keep the blood glucose levels even throughout the day.
  2. Eat complex carbohydrates at each meal - All carbohydrates break down into glucose, which provides energy for people to be well and active. We all need some glucose. We just can't let the levels of glucose get out of hand.
  3. Eat low fat foods - The body only needs a small amount of fat daily. Some fat is used but the rest is stored. This extra fat causes weight gain. Weight can be lost by eating less fat.

Being Overweight

People with diabetes who are overweight can have difficulty controlling their blood glucose levels - especially people with type 2 diabetes. Their insulin does not work as efficiently.

Being overweight also increases the chance of heart disease.

Next: Preparing a Meal

Preparing a Meal

 To prepare a meal use:

  • The Five Food Groups, and the
  • Three Healthy-Eating Recommendations

Add variety to each meal by balancing foods from the five foods groups and using these foods in moderation.

Group 1: Carbohydrates

  • Whole grain breads, rice, pasta, low fat noodles, cereals, beans, lentils, vegetables and fruit
  • Complex carbohydrates are better than refined carbohydrates. They are in foods that are processed least, such as whole grain breads


Pasta                Potatoes              Bread             Rice               Cereal                Beans              Yoghurt


Group 2: Proteins

  • Lean meats, poultry without skin, seafood, eggs (not fried), unsalted nuts, soy products and pulses (dried beans and lentils)
  • The body needs protein every day
  • It is best to have some protein at each meal. Select protein foods with no fat, e.g. lean meat rather than fatty meat. Protein does not directly affect blood glucose levels


Meat                    Eggs                 Fish                Milk


Group 3: Fruit

Fresh, frozen, tinned (natural juice) and dried


Apples            Oranges             Banana    Grapes          Watermelon 


Group 4: Vegetables

Fresh, frozen, tinned and dried


Salad                    Vegetables

Group 5: Fats

  • Fatty foods include butter, margarine, oil, cream, bacon and nuts. These should be eaten in very small quantities
  • Use oil and butter sparingly as using more than you need is the quickest way to gain weight


     Butter                    Oil


Drink Water or Diet Drinks


   Water                     Diet Drink



Add flavour by using chili, herbs, garlic and other low fat seasonings



      Chilli                            Garlic                          Herbs                  Spices   


Healthy Cooking Tips

Steam, grill, BBQ, dry roast, microwave or stir-fry in a non-stick pan



                 Steam                       BBQ                     Grill                        Microwave            Stir Fry

Tips for Grocery Shopping

  • If fatty or sugary foods are too much of a temptation, buy only small packets or amounts
  • Write out a shopping list before going grocery shopping and only buy what is on the list


Snacks and Eating Out

It is best to discuss with the doctor or diabetes educator about morning and afternoon tea and supper snacks.

For people who are prescribed diabetes medication or insulin, snacks can be beneficial for controlling blood glucose levels.

People who are prescribed insulin are sometimes placed in a situation where their meal is delayed. If insulin has already been administered and the meal is delayed, ask for some bread or other carbohydrate-containing foods. If insulin has not been administered, wait until the meal arrives to do so.

For variety, balance foods from each of the five food groups and use the three healthy-eating recommendations.

Examples of Healthy Snacks

  • Drinks - Low Fat Cappuccino, Low Fat Milkshake, Low Fat Smoothie, Diet Soft Drink
  • Something sweet - Pikelets, Scones, Raisin Toast, Crumpets, Fresh Fruit, Low Fat Yoghurt
  • Something savoury - Pretzels, Salsa
  • Something else - Popcorn, Low Fat Cheese, Low Fat Biscuits

Foods that are high in fat like chocolate, hot chips, meat pies, cheesecake, hamburgers, pizza and deep fried fish and chips can be enjoyed.

It is best if they are only eaten occasionally. The blood glucose levels should be within the 'ideal' range.

Some people really enjoy food and struggle to maintain their healthy diet.

Some tips to support and encourage them are:

  • Encourage them to use an alternative low fat version e.g. low fat custard
  • Remove the fatty skin from chicken
  • If butter or margarine is used, spread thinly
  • Try grilled, steamed or poached food rather than deep fried or battered foods
  • If temptation wins, ask for a small serve
  • The larger the serve, the more impact it has on blood glucose levels and how the person may feel
  • If large serves are eaten, follow up with exercise
  • Plan for 'treats', maybe on shopping days or a Saturday night
  • People often worry about what type of fruit or vegetables is better if they have diabetes.

    !! All Fruit and Vegetables are Better than Fatty Foods like Hot Chips !!

    If concerned about which foods should be eaten, discuss this with the doctor, dietitian or diabetes educator.

     Hints from Carers about Cooking and Shopping

  •     "Select healthy foods when shopping. Stocking the pantry with these foods makes healthier eating easy"
  •     "The only way he will eat vegetables is in stews, soups or purees like pumpkin soup"
  •     "Buy only what is on the shopping list and cook according to the instructions"
  •     "We have stuck to the "lite" things like "lite" cheese"
  •     "He loves sandwiches so we use wholemeal bread and no butter"
  •     "Buy everything low fat"
  •     "Use spray oil"
  •     "Every time we go shopping we read the label"

Remember, some people listen and follow the advice of the doctor and some ignore it.

It takes a huge personal effort to make diet and lifestyle changes. For the carer it can cause anxiety when the person chooses not to follow the recommended diet.

Next: Alcohol


Alcohol and diabetes are a dangerous mix.

People with diabetes cannot handle alcohol as well as people who do not have diabetes.

Alcohol can cause a hypo in a person with diabetes.

It is recommended that people with diabetes take no more than two standard drinks a day

Next: Activity 1

Activity 1

Write down the person's favourite foods from each group:









Write down the person's favourite cooking styles (e.g. Asian, Indian, BBQ, plain):






Activity 2

Write down the person's preferred meals for:







Morning tea


Afternoon tea





Show these lists to all key people

Next: Activity 2



Write down what the person enjoys eating when they go



Out for a Takeaway


To a food court


To a pub


To a party


Out on a picnic


Out to a restaurant


To a friend who is not a diabetic